Long Overdue Return to Cloverpatch

The narrowleaf mule’s ears (Wyethia angustifolia) were at peak bloom in the main meadow. With almost the same shade of yellow orange, at first I didn’t notice the wallflowers (Erysimum capitatum) hiding among them in plain sight. The purple flowers are ookow (Dichelostemma congestum). Definitely a spot to return later to collect seed!

Ichneumon wasps apparently don’t feed much as adults, but since they are parasitoids, perhaps the ones I saw floating about above the herbaceous layer of the forest were looking for caterpillars to lay their eggs on.

The Cloverpatch trail west of Westfir is one of the closest trails to my house, yet I hadn’t been there in five years. And with the many off-trail meadows to explore, I hadn’t been up to the uppermost meadow in nine years (see Cloverpatch is in the Pink), so on June 1, I headed to the trailhead. While the day started out overcast, by the time I got to the first meadows, the clouds were dissipating. The flowers were terrific, and I’m so glad I decided to return. I headed straight up to the uppermost meadow to the east. While there used to be a path leading off the trail near the top, I almost walked right by it. The foliage was so lush, I just barely noticed someone had pushed it down as they walked up there (apparently I’m not the only one who enjoys heading off-trail to that meadow!). So I did manage to get back up to the lovely seepy meadow area. While I missed the blooming of the beautiful shooting star seen in the report from 2011, the drifts of great camas (Camassia leichtlinii) and Tolmie’s cat’s ears (Calochortus tolmiei) certainly made up for it. Here are some of the highlights of my trip.

(L) A pair of robber flies was mating in the forest.(R) A ladybug larva was crawling on a faded beautiful shooting star (Dodecatheon pulchellum).

The cat’s ears was outstanding in the upper meadow. From here, you can see to the southeast past Oakridge to Diamond Peak.

I was surprised that even with the abundant flowers and bright sunshine, I don’t think I saw more than a half a dozen butterflies (although bees were everywhere). This painted lady was nectaring on a monkeyflower growing among the delicate blossoms of Nuttall’s saxifrage (Cascadia nuttallii) on some seepy rock outcrops.

The mule’s ears was just beginning to bloom among a sea of camas in the upper meadow.

In the morning, I hadn’t noticed all the paintbrush (Castilleja hispida and maybe some pruinosa) in the main meadow because they were in the shade. On the way back, the bright red flowers among all the other colorful flowers made for a stunning parting shot before heading home.

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